Friday, May 20, 2005

reads and views

Among my interests are reading and viewing films, so I make it a point to add a few titles to the bookshelf and make the occassional foray into the pirate quarter for DVDs, budget-permitting. Caveat: Yes, I have a conflicted stance on video piracy - what with Intellectual Property Rights and me being a creative and all that - but do not take it up with me for both our sakes - if you must vent, do so at your own space and on your own time, okay?

Comic books trade paperback collections dominated my reading supply purchases this week, due to an unanticipated flood of good stuff at Comic Quest and slim pickings at Powerbooks, while a visit to Billy the Pirate netted a decent number of movies to watch (followed by minutes of agonizing choices - too many selections - courtesy of Mr.Smith, my new porn supplier - yes, I like porn.)


Books – Juvenalia and Burgers

Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction edited by Sharyn November (Firebird, 2003). Every fantasy reader has that one special story that sparked their love of the genre. This anthology, written for a younger audience, may just have one for new readers.

Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2003). Focusing on the fairy tales motif, the editors present a wonderful array of writers including Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Jane Yolen and Neil Gaiman, all writing for a younger audience. Seeing anything edited by Datlow and Windling is enough for me. For sixteen years, Datlow and Windling collected and present The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, a veritable bible for speculative writers and lovers of fantastic fiction like me. Imagine my happiness when my story “L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)” was selected for the series' 17th edition (the fanboy in me was enraptured when my story appeared just before Stephen King, and a story away each from my heroes Neil Gaiman and Ursula Le Guin).

Unsolved Murders by Russel Gold (Virgin Publishing, 2002). This collection of true crime stories (a steal at P99) has me engrossed even though I am already familiar with almost 90% of it. I bought it for the JonBenét Ramsey murder which I followed via US papers – I was, and still am, appalled at the murder of a 6 year-old girl. Of course, my daughter Sage thinks its “Unsolved Burgers”.


Comics – Can you tell I love them?

Powers Vol.8: Legends by Brian Michael Bendis (Icon via Marvel Comics). Bendis is the master of the comic book dialogue and charactertization but is shaky with everything else, especially plotting. But still, this series, following the trail of two non-powered detectives in a world of superheroes, makes for entertaining reading – and is read best in collected installments.

Teen Titans: Beast Boys & Girls by Geoff Johns and Ben Raab (DC Comics). This collects a storyline from the current series written by Johns (one of the best comic book plotters and idea men) plus the mini-series featuring Beast Boy (due, no doubt, to the unexpected popularity of the character in the animated TV show ‘Teen Titans Go!”).

Ultra: Seven Days by the Luna Brothers (Image Comics). With plaudits from both critics and fans, Ultra is the story of a superheroine who encounters a fortuneteller that predicts true love in seven days. It’s so good, Nikki says she wished she thought about it.

The Walking Dead Vol.3: Safety Behind Bars by Robert Kirkman (Image Comics). It’s actually hard to write a series about people on the run from zombies, but Kirkman does so with style. He is also the writer of Invincible, one of the best comics around today.

All-Star Comics Archives Vol. 1 (DC Comics). This hefty hardbound edition collects the first appearance of the Justice Society of America, reprinting stories from 1940-1941. The art is an eyesore but the stories themselves possess a certain charm and innocence sadly lacking in today’s offerings. Powerbooks has more of the Archive series but they are all rather pricey. I was lucky to get this one at 50% off.


Film – A little bit of everything, since I’m so not in the mood for my usual art house fare

Melinda and Melinda by Woody Allen (2004). I love most Woody Allen films for their quirkiness and absolute reluctance to conform to Hollywood formulas. Maybe this will be good.

Confidence by James Foley (2003). Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia – by the cast alone, this promises to be interesting.

Primer by Shane Carruth (2004). "If you always want what you can't have, what do you want when you can have anything?" I usually pick up festival winners and this one won the 2004 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. However, if it’s artsy within the first three minutes, it’s off to the “view when intelligent” pile with it.

Baptists at our Barbeque by Christian Vuissa (2004). Winner (Best Picture) in a number of festivals, the same reasoning on Primer applies to this comedy.

Be Cool by F. Gary Gray (2005). We’ll see if intense loathing for Uma Thurman is softened by the performances of John Travolta and Harvey Keitel (it worked for the two Kill Bills, except for the scene she talked to her toes which was just agonizing). Anyway, this is my mindless pick for the week.

Unleashed by Louis Leterrier (2005). Because Jet Li kicks ass. Though I realize I’m probably going to hate this. But hey, I loved Hero.

Hitch by Andy Tennant (2005). Because Nikki has a crush on Will Smith. Sigh.

Big Sister Dora (2005). Because Sage is a big fan of this Spanish-speaking girl and I find her quite educational.

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